Councillor criticises local health care standards

Ealing NHS 'not up to scratch' says Lib Dem

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Cllr. Gary Malcolm, has told a recent council meeting that he believes Ealing hospital and other local health services are not up to scratch.

Gary Malcolm, who is the prospective candidate for the Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush constituency, is a diabetic patient of Ealing hospital and so has direct experience of how he says the people of Acton and Ealing are not getting the good service they deserve. Gary claimed that Ealing hospital has not managed to solve the problem of the MRSA superbug, when other hospitals have cleaned up their act.


In figures produced for the Department of Health, in the year up to March 2004, Ealing Hospital was in the worst 5 General Acute hospitals with 0.26 cases of MRSA per thousand bed-days (the worst hospital recorded 0.33 cases and the best 0.4 cases; some hospitals are more vulnerable to MRSA as a result of the types of work they carry out and other factors, including cleanliness). In 2003/04, Ealing Hospital NHS Trust received a one star rating by the Healthcare Commission.

Ealing Hospital have just launched their "Clean Your Hands" campaign, and they say:

"Ealing Hospital NHS Trust takes the issue of MRSA very seriously and has taken the following steps to reduce its MRSA rates:

· Preventing the spread of hospital inquired infections like MRSA requires more than just cleanliness. MRSA bacteraemia rates in the hospital have consistently fallen for the past three years; this reflects the hard work of the infection control team and staff in the hospital but we recognise that we must not become complacent.

· The hospital is in the second wave of the National Patient Safety Agency "Clean Your Hands" campaign which specifically aims to reduce the incidences of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) such as MRSA. The campaign was launched on 18 January and encourages staff to use alcoholic hand gel to clean their hands between patients, hence reducing the number of HAIs. This means that we have many more alcohol handrub containers installed at the end of each patients bed and staff carry their own supplies in areas where this is not possible such as paediatrics. Hand decontamination points have been established at the entry to each ward for use by all types of staff, patients and visitors.

· Our staff are committed to this pledge and are signing a large hand which will be displayed in the main entrance of Ealing Hospital to serve as a constant reminder of our ongoing campaign and commitment.

· The Trust employs a Monitoring Officer who monitors the standards of cleanliness against the 41 elements of the national cleaning standards.

· The Trust held a Clear out the Clutter campaign in February 2004 to make cleaning easier. This ongoing campaign which will be managed by matrons as part of the Matrons' Charter to be introduced in April."

Is our hospital clean enough?

Cllr Gary Malcolm also said: “Our doctors and the nursing staff are stretched. There are only about half the cleaning staff in hospitals than there used to be. It is no wonder hospitals are unclean.”

Ealing Hospital explained that the cleaning contract was awarded to Medirest in 2001 and they currently employ 82 full-time domestics who clean the hospital. Prior to that, the cleaning of wards was in-house with 34 full-time domestics as well as contractors Sodexho who employed 64 to clean public areas.

They say: "Medirest have 10 Supervisors as well as ward housekeepers who support the cleaning role. Their increased presence on the wards allows any areas of concerns to be identified swiftly, and retraining given, as well as stronger support for the cleaner. They interface with the nursing staff, which increases awareness of cleaning issues within a busy ward.

Last year the hospital increased cleaning of the main public toilets to five times a day and new patient facilities and toilets were installed in the Accident & Emergency department. In addition a new floor coating and sealing system has been used to improve the appearance of the hard surfaces in public areas. A concierge is also available in the hospital's main reception to keep the area clean and to assist patients with directions or queries. A programme to refurbish and upgrade the bathrooms on every ward has also begun."

Is this enough? We will all be watching the MRSA statistics for this year with great interest to see if this problem can be cracked, and reduce the serious and valid concerns of both patients and their families.

What can we do?

  • In the related links section at the top of the page, you will find more information about MRSA for patients, so if you are planning a stay in hospital or have friends/family in there, read more about it. As a visitor, you too should wash your hands before and after entering & leaving the bedside, and hospitals do ask you to challenge staff if you believe they may have forgotten to do so before touching a patient.
  • One of the main reasons why MRSAs have become "superbugs" is the overuse of antibiotics, both in human and veterinary medicine (and in factory farming). Doctors also prescribed antibiotics for viral infections, even though they treat bacterial infections and have no effect on viruses. As a result, the bugs gradually developed resistance to antibiotics, and doctors have been told to cut antibiotic prescribing. If you run for the antibiotics at any opportunity, consider changing your ways, and you may want to consider buying meat farmed using methods which use lower levels of antibiotics e.g. free-range and organic.
  • Encourage our hospital to do their utmost to abide by their Clean Your Hands campaign.


January 24, 2005